Like most great principles, the importance of integrity in business gets a lot of lip-service, but it’s seldom a true way of life, especially on the Internet. We have tuned ourselves to distrust what we read and see because frankly, so much of it is spin or an all-out lie. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is…
When we hear the word integrity, it often congers up an image of a stern and sober school master whose Quaker or Puritan upbringing shows through his innate inability to smile, joke or be happy. But this isn’t what I’m talking about when I say integrity. I am talking about that character quality that doesn’t cut corners or shade the truth, no matter what.
Integrity is important in the workplace because it’s the only way a small business will be able to grow and sustain itself longterm. If integrity is not part of your small business model, you have nothing.
Integrity in Small Business
Integrity is the key to success in everything that we do. Integrity is honesty and truth, period. Shakespeare captured the essence of this in Hamlet when he wrote, “And this above all, to thine own self be true. And it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”.
If we are honest with ourselves, we can’t be dishonest with anyone. If our motto is integrity, we always have what we need. We sleep soundly knowing that we don’t have to worry about what we have said or done.
Translating this principle to your efforts on the Internet is critical as you develop the contents of your website, blog or online communications. Remember that the Internet is the quintessential and ubiquitous communications medium. By design it is everywhere, all the time. The communities that define the Internet, people (all of us) coming together around common interests, have unprecedented access to information, yours and everyone else’s. Therefore, make sure what you publish is honest and true. Simple, right?
The simple truth of the matter is that all of life is governed by the principle of cause and effect.
We have all heard this law repeated in various forms from scriptural to cultural:
– “You reap what you sow”
– “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”
– “What comes around goes around”
Failure to obey this law will result in certain disappointment. This is especially true of the information that you publish and communicate, or the business that you do, on the Internet.
Why Integrity Will Always Matter
While some big businesses can get away with shady deals and still remain powerful, small businesses can’t. It can seem unfair and infuriating even to watch those business get ahead. Small businesses are called to a higher standard of service because frankly, they have more to lose. Small business entrepreneurs and employees go to work every day prepared for battle. Ask any real small business entrepreneur or owner, and they’ll tell you the importance and real impact of integrity in business models. Integrity converts new customers into long-term customers, it develops lasting relationships with clients, networking contacts, and co-workers, and it elevates your brand in local and online spheres.
Acting with integrity in business positions you, and your company, as a leader in your industry. Your dedication will impact your co-workers, employees, and your customers too. And trust me, you’ll see it come back to you in the most amazing ways and scenarios.
There is a term “Internet Time,” that gets bandied about in relation to the speed with which change occurs or things happen online. I have always correlated this concept to another very familiar concept, dog years, the 7:1 ratio of the age of a dog to a human. In other words, the dog ages seven times faster than a human. The correlation is a simple one: change occurs and happens seven times faster on the Internet than they do in the dirt-world.
At a purely pragmatic level, honesty and integrity in the workplace is the best policy. Frankly, it is the only policy online. With the law of cause and effect and the concept of “Internet Time” in mind, imagine if you will the potential impact of putting information out there that isn’t absolutely true, or doing business online that is not in the best interest of your prospects and customers. Understand that this dishonest effort will most certainly bring those “chickens home to roost.” When or how big the unfailing blow will be, nobody can tell. However, you can be sure that “the other shoe will drop.”
By comparison, let’s look at the upside potential of this example. If the content you publish on your web pages and the business that you conduct online is useful, honest and true, it stands to reason that the reward you will receive will come to you seven times faster, right? Absolutely! Not only that, but just as the punishment always seems to be greater than the crime, the rewards for our integrity will be out of all proportion to our honest efforts. It’s our choice.
The importance of integrity in business cannot be overstated. The success and longevity of a small business depends on it’s honesty, integrity, and dedication. Cutting corners may get you ahead for a short while, but we’ve all seen the effects of devastating blowback when those actions come to light.
It’s our choice.